House Republicans File Resolution Over Digital Equity

( – The Biden administration is heading for a new showdown with Congress over plans for a new federal power grab on the internet. The issue is a new package of “digital discrimination” rules being pushed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of Biden’s infrastructure bill. The administration says it will protect civil rights and increase internet access; critics say it hands the federal government sweeping powers to control what Americans do online.

What Is the Administration Doing?

In August 2021, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion spending package that was supposed to improve the country’s infrastructure. Modernizing our infrastructure is a good thing, but it seems the Biden administration is using the Act to push its social agenda. On January 15, new FCC rules against “digital discrimination” went into effect.

The FCC says the new rules will prevent internet service providers from having policies that “differentially impact consumers’ access to broadband internet access” or from providing different access to different communities. This would give the government the power to interfere in almost every detail of how internet companies work, for example forcing them to either provide high-end services to poorer areas where nobody uses them or deny those same services to wealthier areas.

If a policy on opening accounts turned out to deny accounts to more people from one ethnic group, it could be ruled illegal even if that wasn’t its intention. Vice President Kamala Harris said last November the rules will “protect civil rights, lower costs, and increase Internet access for Americans across the country.”

Conservatives Push Back

House Republicans don’t agree with either Harris or the FCC. Representatives Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and Buddy Carter (R-GA) have now introduced a “resolution of disapproval” under the Congressional Review Act, which would officially record Congress’s objection to the rules. So far, another 65 Republican legislators have co-sponsored the resolution.

Republicans have several objections to the rules, but the big one is the degree of control they hand to the government. Even FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr labeled them as a “breathtaking” power grab that would let the government “micromanage nearly every aspect of how the Internet functions” — which, given the Biden administration’s shaky commitment to free speech, is obviously a worry. Many Republicans also believe that, despite its intentions, the rules will actually increase inequality in internet access.

The House resolution is being supported by a wide range of groups, including Americans for Tax Reform and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), which called the rules “a solution in search of a problem.” TPA president David Williams warned that it would end with “regulators telling companies to alter their policies based on the race of their customers.” That isn’t the way things are supposed to work in the US.

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